Former UCLA coach and current Pac-12 football analyst Rick Neuheisel on Thursday joined the Petros & Money Show on KLAC-570. He brushed on several topics regarding the Pac-12, but I’ve transcribed his comments related to UCLA.
On USC banning Daily News writer Scott Wolf:
I understand Lane’s concerns about keeping injury information in-house and until there’s some rule that says you have to do otherwise, it does make for competitive advantages or disadvantages based on what the rest of the teams are doing in the league. But the other thing I’d say to Lane, a young coach as is Steve Sarkisian who made a similar announcement, you’re not going to win that war against the media. Whether it’s Scott Wolf or somebody else. The media is going to be part of this business and it’s always best to understand they have a job to do. I just think calmer heads will prevail, and obviously in his changing his mind that is obviously what took place.
On how good the Pac-12 is and how it stacks up against the rest of the conferences:
We’re off to a great start. It was a huge weekend last weekend with all the wins over top caliber talent. Last weekend we played three defending conference champions. We played Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and LSU. We played a team from the ACC and a played a team from the Big East. I made a point, not only was it a good week for the Pac-12 but it was a good weekend for how college football should be played out during non-conference time. You need to have these kind of intersectional games. It’s good for the fans, television. It’s good for everything. Remembering that fan and television is what pays for the game.
On UCLA’s strong start:
I’m proud of UCLA. Jim Mora and his staff are to be congratulated. It was fun to see Brett Hundley in that environment and respond the way he responded. He was a phenom against a marquee team in Nebraska. If UCLA can consistently play good defense and they can continue to find ways to spread the ball out … they’re making you play sideline-to-sideline. Ten of Hundley’s passes were behind the line of scrimmage, yet they resulted in such positive plays.
On UCLA’s offense:
One thing Noel (Mazzone) loves to do is use scat backs; hybrid running backs/receivers. With Johnathan Franklin doing the job … Damien Thigpen fits in that mold and Jordan James fits in that mold, all those guys have great speed and the ability to carry the ball as well as catch it out of the backfield. As long as you have depth at that position you can put pressure on opposing defenses, and as Noel realizes the weapon he has in Brett he’ll start to indoctrinate a little bit more of a quarterback zone read that’ll take advantage of Brett’s legs. The beautiful thing is I think a youngster like Devin Lucien and Shaq Evans and Jerry Johnson, they have the ability to stretch the field. So as teams try to come and take away those flanks — the ball into the swing route and the flats — there’s going to be some opportunities down the field and all those guys can make plays with their legs. They’re gall, they have good body control. It just sets up well.
On how UCLA administration can open up more to football:
There’s two ways they can react. They can say, ‘What a great coaching change we made and act as if things are great, and they’re to be congratulated they’re off to a great start. Or they can say is look it, we have newfound money with this new television revenue. We have to pay attention to what’s going on in the landscape of college football and see that we can make some reals strides with respect to the physical plant regarding football on our campus and that’s what really needs to be done. Maybe I didn’t talk about it enough, and when you’re Jim Mora it’s difficult to go out and say we need a bunch of things because you don’t want to push recruits away if you’re not going to get those things. One of the things I’m trying to do for Jim is make sure people understand that UCLA is leaving ga lot on the table with respect to what can be done to build a great football program, especially when you’re playing your home games 30 miles away from your campus. There has to be something on that campus that speaks to the commitment to football and I think there’s a lot of good still that can be done and hopefully they’ll put their heads together and figure that out.